By: Kerry Anne –
Michelle Obama has given a blistering speech in which she reveals the emotional challenge of facing down racist attitudes towards her being America’s first African-American First Lady, and which has brought African-Americans out in protest across the country.
When her husband Barack became the first black president of the United States in 2009, America got its first black First Lady too, in Michelle Obama. A woman who went from humble beginnings in Chicago, to become a leading corporate lawyer, Michelle Obama is no shrinking violet. But she needed to become emotionally bullet-proof to deal with what came next.
“As…the first African-American first lady, I was also the focus of another set of questions and speculations, conversations sometimes rooted in the fears and misperceptions of others,” the First Lady said during a near half-hour commencement address at traditionally black Tuskagee University on Saturday.
It wasn’t long before these misperceptions began asserting themselves in the corporate media. In 2008, the New Yorker’s first magazine cover featuring Michelle Obama satirized her as a radical terrorist. The racial overtones could not have been more explicit.
“It was a cartoon drawing of me with a huge afro and a machine gun,” she recalls.
“Now, yeah, it was satire, but if I’m really being honest, it knocked me back a bit. It made me wonder just how are people seeing me.”
Over the half-hour address, Mrs Obama recounted the racist comments she and her husband have endured. The highlights included Fox News calling the First Lady her “husband’s crony of color” and “Obama’s baby mama” (as if Obama was some street corner player that had left Michelle with a couple of kids – and not in fact a successful and committed married couple holding the highest office in the land). She and the future President were even assumed to be “the help” by fellow guests at formal events.[embedplusvideo height=”350″ width=”660″ editlink=”http://bit.ly/1KCsbKK” standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/4w3eFiVUHQQ?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=4w3eFiVUHQQ&width=630&height=350&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=¬es=” id=”ep5086″ /]
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